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Color subway commuters confused

The Red Line is the Red Line to N. Hollywood but it's now the Purple Line to Western Avenue.

February 07, 2007|Angie Green | Times Staff Writer

It's not that Metro Rail commuters didn't know the subway has color-coded routes. They called off colors used on the rail system with ease. But the color purple -- that got them stuck.

"Purple? There is no Purple Line," said commuter Edson Menjivar, 18. "There's blue, there's red, there's gold and green, but no purple."

"Purple Line?" asked a puzzled Dan Kaufman, 27, when asked about the route he was on. "This is the Red Line."

He and other stumped riders on a recent afternoon didn't know it, but they were aboard the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's new Metro Purple Line, previously the Red Line.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday February 09, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 55 words Type of Material: Correction
Purple Line: An article in Wednesday's California section about the renamed Purple Line subway stated that the Los Angeles subway system was the only one in the world that had lines with different destinations using the same name. Other cities, including London and New York, have subway lines with different destinations using the same name.

The Red Line had been two lines, both starting at Union Station. At Wilshire and Vermont, the line split, with one leg running to North Hollywood and a second, shorter section continuing along Wilshire Boulevard and ending at Western Avenue.

The leg to Wilshire and Western is now the Purple Line. The MTA decided to change the name last August but just last month began quietly changing some of its maps and brochures. Maps in the stations show the Purple Line, but those inside the train cars don't.

But that should change this month, said Maya Emsden, who oversees the MTA's creative services division that creates the Metro maps. No additional money is being spent on introducing the Purple Line; changes to the maps will occur on MTA's regular schedule for printing new ones, she said.

Los Angeles was the only subway system in the world that had lines with different destinations using the same name, Emsden said.

"People were like, 'Why do you have two lines with the same names?' 'How do you know where you are going? '" Emsden said.

So to reduce confusion, the Purple Line was created -- or colored in. It was a correction long overdue, Emsden said.

Colors have long befuddled the MTA. When original plans were made for the route from Union Station to Mid-Wilshire in the early 1990s, it was called the Orange Line. But the MTA turned the name over to Orange County after officials there requested it. But Orange County residents voted against a rail line, and now there is a bus line in the San Fernando Valley by that name.

And last year after months of debate, MTA officials declined to pick a color for the 8 1/2 -mile light-rail line between downtown Los Angeles and Culver City. They named it the Expo Line.

But until more commuters hear about the Purple Line, riders such as Takeela Beal of Los Angeles may keep referring to it as "the short Red Line."

A few commuters said the name change may help newcomers or tourists navigating the Metro train system, which goes to North Hollywood, Pasadena, Mid-Wilshire, Norwalk, Long Beach and Redondo Beach.

But most said the change will make little difference to them.

"Unless it has to do with some L.A. Lakers thing" with the Gold Line and Purple Line, Kaufman said.

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angie.green@latimes.com

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